Three women that I've known for most of my life died this year, one just today. I knew them first as my mother's sorority sisters then later as my own. They supported each other in a cancer survivors group, and were always there for each other, lifting each other up through difficult times—remaining positive through it all. I've learned a lot from these women, mostly that on my worst day I really don't have anything to complain about.
When I have to say goodbye to a relative, a soror, a close family friend—the matter of life and death becomes palatable. I notice that as I sit with each passing, the immediacy of the loss is the jolt that reminds me to consider the impermanence of all things. Too often the awareness of impermanence slips into the background. Any acknowledgment of it gets lost amidst the work day, the dirty dishes, my daughter's homework, the laundry. Days speed past in a whirlwind and I often do not consider that every day I am one day closer to death. It could be my own... It could be the passing of someone I love, someone I know. Every day, that final day approaches. And we never know how long the clock will tick until we have to say goodbye.
We know this. Intellectually, we know this. But we still put so many things off. We can always call tomorrow. We can fix our relationships later. We can hold grudges for as long as it feels good. We can put off doing the things that we know we could do every day. Some of those things might be as simple as saying thank you, spending time with the people we love, drinking enough water, getting exercise, getting enough rest, engaging in spiritual practice. What is it in human nature that causes us to be so nonchalant, so lazy about the things we should approach with vigilance?
I think it is the illusion that there is always more time.
It is so common to approch life with that thought in mind, but it's a gamble at best.
Look around. If you knew that the people in your life would not be here next week, next month, next year... would you do anything differently? If you knew that you would not be here next week, next month next year... would you do anything differently? Is there something unsaid that you would make the time to say? Is there something undone that you would make the time to do?
What are you waiting for?
What are we waiting for?